When I saw a sushi sandwich listed on the menu at Diners 2 + 1 in Squirrel Hill, I assumed it would look similar to other sushi-fied foods, more like a sandwich than actual sushi. I expected to receive a handheld, nori wrapped rectangle of sushi rice stacked with fish and vegetables.
But when I opened my takeout container, there weren’t two big halves of seaweed-covered rice. The roll — or in this case, stack — was cut into small triangles, like my mom would cut a grilled cheese for me when I was five. It was layered like rainbow Jell-O, each line a new color, a new flavor.
It started not with nori, but with a pink soy wrapper. This layer was followed by sushi rice, spicy tuna, and a few pieces of crab. The crab was layered by thinly sliced avocado and tamago, a thick piece of Japanese-style omelette. (To me, the sushi was set up like a three-layer-sandwich and the tamago acted as the middle “bread” layer.) A thick layer of salmon was the final touch before each piece was capped by another round of the sushi rice and soy wrapper, the entire plate then drizzled with a creamy sauce.
The roll was huge, to say the least; I was full after eating half of it. The stacked triangles were still small enough to be picked up with chopsticks, though it took at least two bites to finish off each piece.
With so much going on in the sandwich roll, I was afraid the flavors would clash or become lost in each other. But Diners 2+1 nailed the balance, putting space between the layers with stronger flavors. The spicy tuna added just enough zest to combat the lush, mild flavor of salmon and avocado without overpowering the delicate crab.
I did, however, wish that the sandwich roll was capped with nori instead of a soy wrapper. The creamy sauce on top made the roll a bit too rich; I missed the funky, briny seaweed flavor. Dipping the pieces in soy sauce helped, though a salty element would have been welcome.
My craving for nori aside, Diners 2+1 accomplished a true culinary feat with their sushi sandwich, blending an incredible number of flavors into one outrageous roll, a roll that’s too good for Instagram.
Diners 2+1. 1722 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. diners21.com